TIM BLAIR, a keen observer of stupidity, formulated his eponymous law on the inevitable conjunction of human idiocies some time ago, noting how, for example, leftards are wont to make common cause with the same Islamic nut jobs who would, if given their druthers, hang them from cranes in the public square for being gay, troublesome, uncovered or fond of BBQ’d pork. We see many other examples of fools acting in concert, but it just may that Six Million Dollar Man Andrew Jaspan has officiated at the marriage of the two most virulent strains of idiocy wafting about Australia’s institutes of higher learning: climate change and literary deconstruction.
To those who labour not in the groves of academe, those fields of inquiry may seem so remote as to defy belief they might ever be joined. But joined they have been by Dr Aysha Fleming, who tells today’s visitors to the little fellow’s Conversation.edu that, along with polar bears, vintners are amongst global warming’s most pitiable victims. “Grape growers are already suffering emotional stress because of climate change,” writes Fleming, who adds that the pressure “can turn into more serious mental illnesses requiring treatment, or thoughts of suicide, if the problems are not addressed and the situation continues over a long time.”
Fleming has the decency to mention an oversupply, ferocious competition and those chill winds buffeting the global economy. But as there are no career prospects to be mined from real-world factors, it is climate change on which her familiarity with literary theory is brought to bear.
Just to give you an idea how Fleming goes about the task of ascertaining why catastropharian preachers “create resistance in farming communities”, here is the chore she set herself, as described in her disertation’s abstract:
This research is cross-disciplinary in its application of poststructural theory in an agricultural context, and in its use of discourse analysis techniques to examine farmers’ capacities to act and their resistance to change. The discourse analysis is informed by poststructural theory with a focus on language, individual capacities for action and possibilities for change. The study uses constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz 2006) and a genealogical discourse analysis (Carabine 2001) to construct four dominant discourses which inform farmers’ perspectives of climatechange. Farmers are located across the range of these discourses. The discourses are the Discourse of Money, an issue of business viability; the Discourse of The Earth, an environmental concern; The Discourse of Human Responsibility, a call for social action; and the Discourse of Questioning, a problem of trust and information. The features and competing concerns of each discourse contribute to resistance to act on climate change by limiting farmers’ possibilities for action. Practitioners working on agricultural policy and extension programs involving climate change can improve their methods of communication by varying their approaches based on the knowledge of how different discourses shape farmers’ responses.
Fleming has scored a lovely little full-time gig at the CSIRO. Guess that makes her a bona fide climate scientist.